Fly a winged sports car

Tampa, Florida (CNN)- I have no experience in flying an airplane.

In fact, I haven’t even thought about trying it.

Still, when it storms Tampa Bay, Florida on a gorgeous November morning, it looks like a sports car, steers like a jet ski, and is keen to control the highly intuitive two-seater amphibious ICON A5. Take over to. According to the company, even beginners can learn to fly within 30 hours.

With a length of 23 feet and a weight of 1,510 pounds, it is known as a light-sport aircraft in the ocean.

Designed to allow you to focus on your freedom of flight without worrying about the unexpected reaction of the plane, nothing else on the market is better than this.

Now that I have control, my whole body is tense for 5 minutes. Are you really ready to fly all this shiny new machine yourself? I’m confused.

But I’m relieved by the fact that the A5 is specially made for people like me and is designed to drive like a car.

Furthermore, the fact that Icon CEO and founder Kirk Hawkins is next to me in the cockpit doesn’t hurt either. He can take control at any time.

So far, so good.

We glide smoothly through the air at about 1,000 feet and are comfortable enough to admire the scenery. The lovely Fort Desoto Park will not disappoint.

The wavy lines of the dreamy white dunes are surrounded by water that looks like it should be in the Caribbean.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge with a series of long voltage cables is just as impressive.

Adrenaline is still racing. And as most surrealistic experiences progress, it just keeps getting better.

To get started, there’s another ICON A5 on my left, which is thrilling in itself. We are flying in formation and my job is to imitate that movement. This may seem scary, but it’s not.

It’s just fun.

It’s music that reaches Hawkins’ ears. He is the brain behind this new plane and is a decade of ideas.

As a former Air Force F-16 pilot and graduate of Stanford Business School, he has focused most of his adulthood on making sports flights available to the masses.

“Our idea was to build an airplane where the average person could go out and experience the world without the burden of becoming a professional pilot,” he says.

So it makes sense for the dashboard to look like what you see in a car. Only a few gauges I’m not aware of.

“It’s Apple’s approach to things,” he says. “You humanize it and make it intuitive, easy and cool.”

He has just opened a flight training facility at Peter O. Knight Airport because he is convinced that people want to fly (and buy) his plane.

Located on Davis Island, 5 minutes from downtown Tampa, it is full of beauty and yachts.

The company’s other training centers are located in Vacaville, California, where ICON is headquartered.

Wide eyes and open windows

It’s 9am, a short landing pit stop time.

Hawkins takes control. I was busy learning formation flight (which non-pilots don’t try often) and didn’t even think about interviewing Hawkins and learning to land on their own. This is what Hawkins says most people can learn in about 30 minutes.

After a few negative Gs and 360 degree rotations, it will be a fun roller coaster ride in the sky. Besides, because it is an outdoor flight, I sometimes shake my arm. Just because you can.

Hundreds of feet above the surface of the water, it’s easy to find boaters waving at us, swarms of pelicans, and even stingrays.

“Pull here, stop for a moment and go out,” he says.

Sure he’s a joke, right? But after landing the plane in the water, he takes off his seat belt, and I notice he isn’t.

A few seconds later he opens the roof and we climb the wings. It can easily double as a diving platform. Suddenly, this isn’t like going out on an airplane, it feels like I’m sunbathing on a boat.

Everything is immersed in a fascinating golden color. Imagine a picnic on a nearby beach. Or fly for a weekend camping trip.

The plane is full and has a range of about 430 miles, so it is made for short vacations.

“It’s all about inspiring people,” he explains. “Once you learn to fly, you will never be the same. You will see another sky, you will see another planet.”

Designed to make flight easier

“The main motor skills for operating an airplane are very simple,” Hawkins tells me. “Some people land alone with the instructor within 30 minutes on the first day.”

That said, they took the time to design it for safety. The goal of spin-resistant airframe features is to ensure that the plane does not lose control if the pilot makes a mistake.

As a backup, there is a complete airplane parachute.

“Spin resistance is a big issue because it’s the first plane the FAA considers spin resistant,” says flight instructor and US Air Force officer Chris Dupin. “A significant number of common aviation fatalities are from uncontrolled accidents with unrecovered spins at the base to the final turn.”

In addition, there is an angle of attack indicator. This is something you wouldn’t normally see on a light aircraft. Indicates where the wings are happy (green) or where they can stall (red).

The pilot’s job is to keep the wings within the green or yellow section of the gauge. This is part of the reason why water takeoff and landing are so easy to learn.

Become a burnt stormer

“Kirk Hawkins has a very creative and innovative idea for more intuitive pilot training. Unlike the way people learn to drive, he first teaches the feel of flight and later with the principal. I’ll teach you the structure, “said a veteran aviation journalist,” Crash Detective. “

“The world is facing a shortage of pilots, so the idea of ​​teaching differently to accommodate different learning styles can expand the pool of pilot candidates very well.”

In that regard, about 40% of people who deposit ICON A5 deposits are not pilots. This means that this plane is attracting aviation beginners.

After an hour and a half flight time, Hawkins will land us on the airport runway. This is an operation that you can work on after mastering some water landings. A little caution is required as it requires higher accuracy and knowledge of crosswinds.

At this point, if I own this plane, I’ll connect it to a trailer, fold its wings, take it home, and park it in the garage.

Get broadcast time

If you need your own ICON A5, line up. Over 1,800 customers have withdrawn their deposits.

For those who aren’t ready to buy $ 207,000, you have the option to stop by the ICON training facility in Tampa or the facility in Vacaville, CA and fly for the day.

The Sports Flying Introduction class costs $ 595 for 1.5 hours. It takes more than 20 hours to get a sports pilot license, and prices vary.

Sarah Sekula is an Orlando-based travel writer and video host. Follow her adventures @wordzilla and @wordzillapics.

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